Como Engineers has been appointed project managers for construction of Gulf Minerals Corporation’s Kupang manganese smelter project in West Timor. Major site work is due to start on July 1, 2015 for the first production of high carbon ferromanganese alloy to be tapped 12 months later.

XRAM Technologies Pty Ltd has been nominated as pyrometallurgical engineers on behalf of Como.

Como Engineers, established 1986, is a well-respected mechanical and mineral processing engineering company based in Western Australia with an office in Jakarta. It has extensive experience in the mining industry in Australia and overseas, particularly Indonesia, and has been involved in the PT Arutmin Indonesia (BHP) Coal Ports, Way Linggo Project for Kingsrose and also for the Finders Resources operation on Wetar Island.

Gulf’s chairman Graham Anderson said: “We are pleased to be working with the long established and respected Como Engineers who have a proven reputation of successfully operating within the mining industry in Indonesia on large projects with successful outcomes for many years.”

Gulf is developing its smelter facilities in the West Timor capital Kupang to take advantage of the low cost of ore, labour and power, which represent the majority of operating costs. It will comprise eight furnaces, each of which is expected to cost $5.6 million and be capable of annually producing 20,000 tonnes of premium quality 78% ferromanganese alloy from third party ore.

The fixed semi-closed furnaces use technology that have been proven over many years and will be built in South Africa in modular form to eliminate construction risk.

The company plans to build the first two furnaces during 2015, which will come online in January 2016. A further two furnaces will be built each year in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

During construction Gulf shall be exporting 50%-plus manganese ore to provide early cashflow and from 2015 annual exports will commence at 60,000 tonnes and increase by 30,000 tonnes annually to 180,000 tonnes in 2018. Ore will be sourced from West and East Timor together with other localities.

Meantime, Gulf Minerals has entered into a terms sheet covering a US$20 million Committed Equity Funding Agreement, which will be used in part towards first stage development of the smelter project. The funding from Sigur Holdings will be provided by way of 10% annual interest, 4-year senior credit facility loan and preferred shares.

This is non-binding and subject to final Definitive Agreements following due diligence by both parties. Sigur is a subsidiary of the New York-based, South African private group, Sigur Capital.

Graham Anderson said: “We are pleased to be working with Sigur Holdings as they maintain a global presence and long standing relationships with international resources companies.”

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